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Razer BlackWidow review: an awesome gaming keyboard that won't blow a hole in your wallet

Windows Central Recommended Award

The Razer BlackWidow is a familiar name to PC gamers everywhere. It's one of those keyboards that everyone knows of even if they haven't actually used one.

The newest member of the family is simply called BlackWidow and is a more affordable alternative to the BlackWidow Elite. Besides having a more wallet-friendly price tag, you'd be hard pushed to tell it apart from its bigger brother at first glance.

But one thing is for sure: A more affordable BlackWidow definitely has our attention.

What you'll like about the Razer BlackWidow

The BlackWidow is Razer's most popular keyboard range, and not without good reason. For many years, PC gamers have enjoyed pounding the keys on a BlackWidow in a wide range of games.

It hasn't ever fallen into the trap of looking like a child designed it because GAMERS, rather a fairly sophisticated, understated style. Indeed, the new BlackWidow at first glance doesn't look particularly exciting at all. It's a full size, all-black keyboard with number pad, and aside from the Razer logo in the center you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for just a regular keyboard you might see in the office.

I like that, and it's a trend across all of Razer's gaming keyboards. You only get the flare when you pump up the Chroma LED lighting, and even then, Chroma is about the best of the bunch. It illuminates every key and the surrounding area, with effects, game integrations, even smart home compatibility on hand. Your entire gaming room can light up in complete synchronisation.

So, on the outside, it's pretty typical for Razer keyboards. It looks decent, lights up like the Vegas Strip, and it feels solid and well made. The BlackWidow is quite a bit more affordable than the flagship BlackWidow Elite, but in most cases, you'd be hard pressed to tell why.

Best Gaming Keyboards

Best Gaming Keyboards (Image credit: Windows Central)

The BlackWidow has Razer's Green Mechanical Switches, which have both superb tactile feedback and an extremely satisfying clicky sound. Each key uses an improved dual-side wall design which is supposed to reduce unnecessary wobble. The overall feel is quite different to Razer's other high-end keyboard, the Huntsman, but not for the worse.

The gaming and typing experience on the BlackWidow is first rate. Each key has a nice sharp action and feels incredibly responsive. While typing you can really feel your fingers dancing across the keys. They're also rated for 80 million keystrokes, so you should get plenty of life.

Something else that makes a welcome return on the BlackWidow is Hypershift. Rather than running a dedicated row of macro keys, Hypershift allows you to assign literally any key on the keyboard to a macro or secondary function. Combined with both on-board and cloud storage for your personal profiles, you can take your BlackWidow between computers and never have to worry about setting up from scratch.

Ultimately the BlackWidow is an absolute blast to use, both for gaming and just getting work done, and the clicking never gets tiresome. That this is a much more affordable BlackWidow keyboard puts it within reach of more budgets, and that's never a bad thing.

What you'll dislike about the Razer BlackWidow

For all that is good, the BlackWidow isn't perfect. It's pretty close, but there are some things that may or may not leave a sour taste.

The first is that the cable is fixed. While the BlackWidow has routing channels along the back, that's only advantageous when you're at your desk. If you move between machines or travel with your gaming gear a lot, a removable cable would always be a huge help.

The braided cable on the BlackWidow is fairly long, and even with the included cable tie, it's still a bit of a mess if you try to pack it for a trip.

The other, perhaps more annoying omission is that there's no wrist rest as you get on the BlackWidow Elite and the BlackWidow Tournament Edition. Sure, you get a healthy price cut with this BlackWidow over the others, but it's still a premium keyboard that costs over $100.

Razer's wrist rest is very good, it's supportive and comfortable. But you'll be tasked with forking out an additional $20 to get one for this version of the BlackWidow, which is a little disappointing.

Should you buy the Razer BlackWidow?

So, should you buy the newest Razer BlackWidow keyboard? Absolutely. Lack of wrist rest aside, you'd be hard pushed to really find any significant disadvantages to this one over the more expensive BlackWidow Elite.

The keys are tremendous, it has all the bells, whistles and software features you'd expect from a Razer keyboard and it should be good for a long life of happy gaming.

It's a brilliant gaming keyboard.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.